Welcome back to the weekly LSU football and recruiting mailbag.
Every week, LSU reporter Sam Spiegelman goes through his stack to answer some of the most pressing questions submitted by you, the readers.
DISCLAIMER: If you want to submit a question, send a message to @SamSpiegs on Twitter or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Room is getting tight in the Tigers’ recruiting class, with just a handful of scholarship spots remaining for what appears to be a wide range of blue-chip targets.
Although we’re just getting going with the actual season, we’re about to leap into the fourth quarter of the recruiting cycle.
So what’s next? Let’s take a look:
Do you think it’s time to let Danny Etling play? Also, should they let the redshirt freshman left tackle play and move Maea Teuhema back to left guard and Will Clapp to right guard? (@BwhinsOld)
Those two questions address the two biggest reasons why LSU slipped up against Wisconsin. The quarterback play was disappointing, and perhaps it was because the offensive line did not play to a level that was expected.
So, will Etling get time under center against Jacksonville State? Of course, but maybe not for the reasons you’re thinking.
Brandon Harris is slated to start on Saturday in the home opener. LSU is a heavy favorite against the Ohio Valley Conference squad, and that alone should be enough motivation for the Tigers to come out firing. But then you factor in the subpar performance in the 16-14 loss and I’m confident that Harris will play inspired football. After all, we expected Wisconsin’s defense to be worse off with Dave Aranda switching teams in the offseason, but there are still a lot of quality players in that unit and were able to take advantage of LSU in multiple ways.
Predictable play-calling, lack of protection and a handful of poor decisions hindered Harris at Lambeau Field. If he replicates that performance, I don’t think coach Les Miles has a choice other than to play Etling. However, Harris is a seasoned player with a good head on his shoulders and a ton of talent. Expect him to be overly prepared for Jacksonville State with an impressive stat sheet to quell his critics. He’s done it before; it’s simply a matter of putting all of it in motion and executing the game plan.
Part of Harris’ success will be predicated on whether his line can play better against Jacksonville State. Josh Boutte, who clotheslined Wisconsin defensive back D’Cota Dixon after Harris threw a game-sealing interception, is suspended for Saturday’s contest, but I anticipated change once the LSU coaches watched the tape. The line played better once Maea Teuhema entered the game at left tackle. With Boutte out of the lineup, there’s room for Teuhema crack the lineup right away. A starting five of K.J. Malone (LT), Clapp (LG), Ethan Pocic (C), Teuhema (RG) and Toby Weathersby (RT) is LSU’s best five up front, which should be able to pave better running lanes for Leonard Fournette and give Harris adequate time when he drops back in the pocket.
Is the season as hopeless and over as it seems? (@tkinard318)
Well, there’s two ways to look at this: The season is not over at all, but that puts even more pressure once LSU enters the gauntlet portion of its 2016 schedule.
With the College Football Playoff system in place, it’s better for teams to lose — and do so early — than to lose on bigger stages later in the season. Remember, Alabama lost to Ole Miss at home in September last season but won out, claimed an SEC championship and, by the way, then won a national championship.
If LSU is the team that we all projected it to be, then this Saturday there’s an opportunity to right the ship. The Tigers host Jacksonville State and Mississippi State at home the next two weekends before delving right into the thick of the SEC schedule. LSU has two tough road contests at Auburn and Florida, with a home game against Missouri in between. After the Southern Miss game, LSU faces Ole Miss in what will be its toughest test to date. It’ll then get a bye week before hosting Alabama on Nov. 5, which before the season seemed like a toss-up. A loss would bury LSU, and in a game that holds major recruiting and job-security ramifications, it’s absolutely a must-win game.
LSU will close the year with two of its final three games away from Tiger Stadium, including at Arkansas and at Texas A&M on Thanksgiving. Neither one of those tilts can be overlooked.
So no, Thomas, LSU’s season isn’t over. There’s just no room for error the rest of the way. Winning out is the only way LSU has a fighting chance to land a spot in the playoff.
Realistic coaching wish list? (@MatthewStrahan3)
Keep in mind this is pure speculation, but I’ll give you three names and one interesting scenario.
The first is obvious: Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher. LSU athletic director Joe Alleva had his sights set on Fisher when Miles was sitting squarely on the hot seat last November. Of course, Fisher is in a very good position with a championship contender right now, but there’s no telling what happens if Alleva opens up his wallet to make him an offer. This is the only known candidate Alleva reached out to last year and presumably would be the top candidate if LSU were to part ways with Miles after the season.
The next is my choice for the hot coaching candidate who will be on many teams’ wish list: Houston coach Tom Herman. The former Ohio State assistant is a part of the Urban Meyer coaching tree and has beaten Florida State and Oklahoma in his past two games. Houston emerged as a known power under Kevin Sumlin, and somehow, someway, Herman has continued to push the Cougars forward. LSU’s recruiting efforts in the state of Texas, particularly in the Houston area, make this possible connection all the more intriguing. Numerous big-time programs in need of a new coach will be making phone calls to Herman later this fall, perhaps even LSU.
What if LSU were to promote from within? The team has an all-star staff, including a couple of former head coaches at the college and professional level. If this were the case, my money would be on defensive line coach Ed Orgeron. He’s been at the helm of Ole Miss, succeeded as the interim coach of Southern Cal and is LSU’s recruiting coordinator. His reputation speaks for itself, and continuity would be key to keeping the Tigers’ recruiting classes intact. If Miles were to lose his job during the season, Orgeron would be the favorite to be named interim coach.
That interesting scenario I was referring to attempts to keep LSU’s assistant coaches in place. The team just added Aranda, Dameyune Craig and Jabbar Juluke this offseason, and Orgeron is only in his second year. If LSU were to completely clean house, it would certainly shake up their recruiting efforts and jeopardize what’s currently the No. 3 class in 2017. Interesting to note that Craig was on Fisher’s Florida State staff from 2010-12 as the quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator once Fisher took over the Noles as head coach.
How did the loss impact recruiting? (@Derrick70129577)
Simply put, it didn’t. It was one loss, so while it was disappointing and a bit unexpected, it hasn’t completely ruined LSU’s season or what remains ahead of this team.
A handful of LSU commits publicly stated their support for the team after the loss. 4-star Florida wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon called it “a minor setback.” 3-star Mississippi offensive lineman Saahdiq Charles threatened to unfollow anybody that criticized the Tigers. 4-star Texas wide receiver Mannie Netherly tweeted out praise of some of the other teams that recruited him, but ended any speculation of a flip by stating, “I ain’t going nowhere. I’m 100 percent LSU.”
As I mentioned in a response earlier, one loss doesn’t end LSU’s season. If this were to turn into a tailspin or the team gets bounced around by its SEC rivals, then we’re having a different conversation.
Here’s two targets that would be impacted should LSU’s season go under or Miles were to be fired:
- 5-star Florida outside linebacker Dylan Moses
- 4-star Louisiana outside linebacker Christopher Allen
Moses is the biggest fan of Miles and the reason why LSU is considered a favorite to land the 5-star backer. When Miles was on the hot seat last November, Moses issued a statement of support for the coach. If Miles isn’t coaching the Tigers next season, Moses could give further consideration to Alabama and Texas, two teams that have led his recruitment at different junctures.
Allen may not make a decision until National Signing Day. He told SEC Country that LSU and ‘Bama are his co-leaders, and the biggest factor to his commitment will be how each team fares this season. The defending national champs rolled Southern Cal in the opener while LSU came up short against unranked Wisconsin. LSU needs to right the ship to impress Allen. The Tide’s visit to Baton Rouge on Nov. 5 is likely circled on the 4-star linebacker’s calendar because whoever comes out on top that Saturday could gain an edge in his recruitment.
Do colleges have a commitment if they make an offer to a prospect, then the player suffers an injury? Can they back out? (@joecipollone)
Well, it sort of depends on the situation.
If a highly sought-after high school tailback suffers an injury, it is up to the 12 colleges that have extended him a scholarship if they want to honor it. Most of the times, though, yes, the colleges will stand behind their offer. In fact, some universities refuse to pull scholarships away from prospects because they got hurt. Some do, but it may be because the recruit was injured doing something outside of football.
Let’s look at a couple difference instances:
- New Orleans Saints cornerback Delvin Breaux held an offer from LSU during his senior season at McDonogh 35 High School in New Orleans. Months later, Breaux suffered a neck injury, fracturing multiple vertebrae during a kickoff return, which ended his season early. LSU honored his scholarship nonetheless and continued to do so even when he was not cleared to play football.
- In May 2015, before 4-star quarterback Lowell Narcisse was committed, he tore his right ACL during the St. James (La.) spring game. At the time — four or so months prior to his junior year — he held multiple offers and all of the colleges recruiting him told him they would honor his scholarship. Two months later, he pledged to Auburn without a hiccup.
- Last month, Narcisse told his left ACL at his jamboree. It was a new injury — to his other knee — and the third injury he had suffered in a 15-month span. Narcisse committed to LSU in April and the coaching staff immediately told the quarterback it would honor his scholarship.
So, there is not rule against colleges revoking a scholarship offer if a prospect gets hurt. However, there’s usually a better chance that colleges continue to honor their offers, assuming the injury was suffered in a normal fashion.
What recruits could LSU lose with a bad year and the possible firing of Les Miles? (@chris_baudean)
If you looked two questions above, I named Dylan Moses and Christopher Allen as two of LSU’s top targets that the team could likely swing and miss on if the team’s season were to tailspin out of control and lead to the departure of Miles.
If LSU’s season were to go off the rails a bit, it would be a wait-and-see sort of approach with each current commit. As I mentioned earlier, recruits such as Jhamon Ausbon, Saahdiq Charles and Mannie Netherly all stood behind the Tigers after the loss to Wisconsin. It may or may not be a different story if one loss suddenly balloons into three or four.
While LSU’s final record may be the catalyst for Allen and the presence of Miles may determine where Moses winds up, I believe it becomes a matter of which assistant coaches remain on the staff if there was a change at the top.
So many of LSU’s 20 commits pledged to the Tigers because of their future position coaches or primary recruiters. For instance, take a look at the list below:
- Saahdiq Charles (primary recruiter: Jeff Grimes)
- Grant Delpit (recruiters: Corey Raymond, Bradley Dale Peveto)
- JaCoby Stevens (recruiters: Corey Raymond, Austin Thomas)
- Lowell Narcisse (primary recruiter: Cam Cameron)
- Myles Brennan (primary recruiter: Cam Cameron)
- Mannie Netherly (recruiters: Dameyune Craig, Bradley Dale Peveto)
That’s just a small sample size to show that the assistant coaches play an equally important role in the recruiting process. If a new coach comes in and cleans house, then certainly many of the LSU assistants could be looking for new jobs and the Tigers will have a lot of work to do in salvaging the 2017 class and beyond.
In other words, LSU’s final record may deter a few targets from coming to Baton Rouge; the firing of Miles may cost the team a handful of recruits and/or commits; losing some assistant coaches may be lead to the biggest hit to their recruiting efforts.
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tiger Stadium.